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Inside Move: Adelphia woes are porn’s gain

Opportunity knocks for New Frontier Entertainment

As Adelphia Communications faces shareholder wrath, grand jury probes and an SEC investigation, one corner of the media biz is relishing the meltdown.

“Yippee!,” says Mark Kreloff, chairman-CEO of New Frontier Entertainment, which owns the Erotic Networks, a collection of adult channels including Exstasy, Pleasure, TeN and True Blue.

There’s no love lost between Kreloff and Adelphia, since the nation’s sixth-largest cable company was the only major player in the industry to slam the door on porn.

Adelphia founder-chairman John Rigas, who was forced to surrender control of the cabler May 23 after the biggest corporate accounting scandal since Enron, cited family values to keep sex off his systems.

Then, like a Jim Bakker of cable, he got caught with his hand in the till, as Adelphia disclosed $2.3 billion of off-balance-sheet loans to Rigas family entities in its 2001 earnings report.

“He used to say we weren’t the most moral of people. It was the pot calling the kettle black,” says Vivid Video co-owner Bill Asher with some satisfaction.

L.A.-based Vivid, a prodigious producer of porno pics, sold its adult cable channels to Playboy six months ago.

“They (cablers) are supposed to offer what the community at large is interested in. There are billboards in Los Angeles that are more explicit than what they have on their systems,” says Jim English, prexy of Playboy TV.

Adelphia has more than 6 million subscribers, including about 1.3 million in the L.A. area. The no-sex policy certainly cost it substantial revenue, as adult fare is generally the biggest moneymaker on pay TV.

Kreloff expects a “dramatic improvement” in revenue if Adelphia is broken up and sold, or if it installs new management — two possible outcomes to the cabler’s woes.

Assuming the porno ban is lifted for all Adelphia systems, Kreloff figures Denver-based New Frontier will pull in an additional $1 million a month per channel. And Playboy could see revenue spike by more than $1 million a month, says analyst Dennis McAlpine of McAlpine & Associates.